Brothers in Islam! The basic and most important act of worship among those which Allah has taught us to perform is Salah or the Prayer. It prepares us to worship Him in our entire lives, the purpose for which He has created us.
The virtue of this gracious act is so great that we cannot take it lightly. So in this article, I want you to learn some of the common mistakes that weaken our daily salaat. I pray that you find it useful.
Abandonment of salaah altogether.
This is indeed kufr (disbelief) and the evidence is found within the Holy Quran, the authentic Sunnah and the consensus of the Ummah. Allah ta’aala states:
But if they repent, perform the Salah and give the Zakah, then they are your brethren in religion. (Al-Quran 9:11)
In a hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said: Between a man and shirk (what protects him from shirk) is the abandonment of salaah. (Muslim)
Delaying the salaah from its appointed time.
This is a violation according to the word of Allah ta’aala: Verily the salaah has been appointed for the believers at specific times. (Al-Quran 4:103)
There are specific appointed times of Salah and its postponement beyond the obligatory time is a major sin and Allah is the one upon Whom we depend on.
On the authority of Anas who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) saying: This is the salaat of the hypocrite (Munafiq); when he sits observing the sun until it is between the horns of Satan, then he stands to perform four (rak’ah) remembering Allah little. – (Muslim)
If this is the salaah of the hypocrite then what of the salaah of someone who postpones the prayer until the complete period of the salaat has passed without any excuse?
Abandonment of the congregational prayer in the masjid by able men either regularly or on occasion.
The commandment has been given to perform the salaah in congregation in the masjid. Congregational (al-Jema’ah) salaah is a duty except for those who have a valid excuse according to the Shariah.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Whoever hears the call (of azan) and thereafter does not answer it (i.e. attend the congregational salaah) there is no Salaah for him except for a valid excuse. (Reported by Ibn Majah and others.
Lack of tranquility within the salaat.
This is generally done out of ignorance and it is an open sin because tranquility is a pillar of the salaah without which the salaah is incorrect.
The meaning of tranquility is that the one praying is tranquil in the bending, standing, prostration, and sitting between the two prostrations and he should get in position where every bone settles into place, he should not hasten between portions of the prayer until he has attained tranquility in it and gives each its due time.
The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) once said to the one who was rushing through his salaah without observing the proper tranquility: Go back and make salaah because you have not made the salaah.
Lack of proper reverence and humility in the salaat and excess movement therein.
The place of fear and tranquility is in the heart and it is evident in the tranquility of the limbs and humility before Allah.
Allah has indeed praised His slave by His statement: Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their salaah with all solemnity and full submissiveness. (Al-Quran 23:1-2)
As well (He has praised) the prophets by his statement: Verily they used to hasten on to do good deeds and they used to call upon Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us. (Al-Quran 21:90)
With fear and with tranquility in prayer is only attained by the one who has emptied his heart totally, who does not pay attention to anything else besides it, and who prefers it above all else.
Intentionally preceding the imam in the movements of the prayer or not following his movements.
This nullifies the salaah or rak’ah for whoever bows before his imam ruins his own rak’ah unless he follows it later with another bowing. Such is likewise with the rest of the pillars of the salaah.
It is obligatory for the praying person to follow the imam completely without preceding him or lagging behind him.
Abu Dawud and others transmit with an authentic chain from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Verily the imam is to be completely followed, so if he makes takbeer then you make takbeer and don’t make takbeer until he does so, and if he bows then bow and don’t bow until he does so…
Standing to complete a missed rak’ah before the imam has completely finished making the second tasleem
(i.e. closing the prayer by saying ‘As-salaamu ‘alaikum warahmatullahi to the right and left).
It is reported in Sahih Muslim that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Do not precede me in the rukoo’ (bowing), not in the sujud (prostration) nor in going out of the prayer (al-insiraaf).
The scholars have said that the meaning of al-insiraaf is at-tasleem and it is named such because the praying person may leave afterward and he leaves only after the second tasleem. The one who precedes the imam should stay in his place until the imam has completed his salaah, then he should stand and complete whatever he missed, and Allah knows best.
Making the intention aloud.
This is a bid’ah (innovation).
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) never made the intention for salaah aloud. It has been reported from authentic sources that: “When the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would stand for salaah he says: ‘Allahu Akbar’ and nothing else before it nor did he pronounce his intention aloud.
Not reciting Surah Al-Fatihah in the salaah.
The recitation of Al-Fatihah is a pillar and the salaah of whoever does not recite it is void. This is according to the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) saying: Whoever makes a salaah wherein Al-Fatihah is not recited then it is Khadija (miscarried) – and he repeated it three times – incomplete. (Muslim from Abu Hurayrah)
Raising the eyes to the sky during salaat or looking to the right and left without due cause
As far as raising the eyes, it is forbidden and bears the threat of punishment. It is narrated the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Let the people stop raising their eyes to the sky in the salaah or let their sight not return to them. (Muslim)
It is a deficiency in the salaah of the worshipper as long as he has not turned his entire body in another direction (i.e. away from the Qiblah). If however the entire body is turned then the salaah is invalidated.
At-Tirmidhi also collected an authentic Hadith: Be warned of turning or looking around in the salaah because it is destruction. And there are other ahadith on looking around in the salaah.
Sitting on one’s haunches during the salaah and prostrating with the elbows on the ground.
Al-Iqaa’ is forbidden as related by Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu ‘anhu) who said: My dear friend forbade me three things: He forbade me from pecking like a rooster (just touching the head in prostration), sitting on the haunches like a dog, and looking around like a fox. – Ahmed.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) forbade a man from spreading his arms on the ground like a beast of prey.
Summarizing a Hadith collected by Muslim from ‘Aisha (radiallahu ‘anhaa) as well as by At-Tirmidhi, Ahmed and others: If any of you prostrates then keep straight and not spread his arms like the sitting of a dog.
Wearing a thin (see-through) garment that does not sufficiently cover the ‘auwrah (private area).
This is an invalidator of the salaah because covering one’s ‘awrah is a condition for a sound salaah. The man’s ‘awrah is – according to what is most authentic – from the navel to the knee. Likewise, he must cover his shoulders or one of them1 in accordance with the statement of Allah: O children of Adam wear you adornments to every masjid. (Al-‘Araaf 31)
A woman not covering her head with the khimaar in salaah and not covering her feet.
The awrah of the woman in salaah is her entire body with the exception of her face. Nor is there any harm if she covers her face due to the passing by of men or the like.
It is obligatory for her to wear a khimaar which is a head covering that also covers the bosom. This according to his (slallahu ‘aliahi wa sallam) statement: Allah does not accept the salaah of the menstruating female unless she is wearing a khimaar. (Collected by Ahmed others)
Walking in front of the praying person whether they be the imam or praying alone and stepping over the people during the Jumu’ah khutbah.
It is a sin upon the person who passes in front of someone who is praying.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: If the one who passes in front of the praying person knew how serious a sin it was for him to do so it would have been better for him to wait for forty than walk in front of him. (Forty may refer to forty days, months or years, and Allah knows best)
The one who pushes between the people during the Jumu’ah khutbah harms people through his being late for the salaah according to the statement of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam): Sit for you have caused harm and come late. (Ahmed and others.)
Cutting between the people is forbidden. One who enters the masjid should sit where there is space unless he sees a genuinely open area where he should then go to it and sit.
Not saying the takbeeratul – ihraam (opening takbeer) when entering upon the congregation while the imam is in rukoo’.
This is a major mistake because the takbeeratul-ihraam is a pillar of the salaah that must be done by the one praying when standing for the salaah and then afterwards join the imam in the bowing position (rukoo’).
To make the opening takbeer and then another takbeer before going into rukoo’ is more complete and thorough.
Joining the salaat late without following the Imam (by getting in the same position) when the He is sitting or in sujud (prostrating).
It is most preferred and most sure for the one who enters the masjid that he joins the imam in whatever position he may be in, whether he be in sujud or otherwise.
It is reported by Abu Dawud and others that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: If you come to the salaah and we are making sujud then you also make sujud. For a worshipper to delay making sajdah is to have in effect prevented himself from an act of worship which Allah loves.
Busying oneself with matters that take one away from the salaah.
This is evidence of preference of the worldly life over that of the Hereafter, following vain desires and being too busy to obey Allah. This is indeed ruination and of evil consequence to whoever does it.
Playing with one’s clothing or watch or the like.
This is an act that destructs concentration. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) forbade rubbing pebbles during the salaah due to its negative effect on tranquility when he said: If any of you performs the prayer let him not rub pebbles for mercy is turned towards him.
A person might increase playing around to the point of excessive movement that is outside of the salaah and thereby nullify it.
Closing the eyes for no reason.
This is an objectionable act as Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) mentioned: “Closing the eyes was not from the guidance of the Rasool (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).” He also said: “The scholars of fiqh have differed on its detestability. Imam Ahmed and others deemed it detestable and they said that it was of the habits of the Jews. However a group of them ruled it allowable without any detestability and they said that it may indeed be a closer means of achieving tranquility which is the spirit of the salaah, its heart and its aim.”
“Most correct is that if keeping the eyes open has no detrimental effect upon your concentration and or tranquility then it is preferable to close your eyes. If decorations, adornments or the like are around the worshipper or between him and the Qiblah to the point of distraction, then there is absolutely no objection to closing the eyes. And Allah knows best.”
Raising the voice in recitation to the point of distracting those around.
It is recommended that one hears himself, not to the point that it interrupts anyone who is reciting the Quran or making salaah.
Al-Bukhaari and Muslim both transmit from ‘Umraan Ibn Husain (radiallahu ‘anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) prayed Dhuhr and there was a man behind him reciting ‘sabbihisma rabbikal-‘alaa’, so when he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) finished he said: Who among you was reciting or who was the reciter? The man said, “Me.” So he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: I thought that some of you were disputing with me in it.
The scholars’ state: The meaning of his words is a disapproval of the act.
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) stated: Whoever is reciting the Quran and the people are praying additional prayer then it is not correct for him to recite aloud thus disturbing them because the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) left some of his companions while they were praying As-Sahr (before dawn) and he said: O people, each of you is seeking salvation from his Rabb therefore do not overpower one another with your recitation.
Not making the lines straight.
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has stated: Straighten your lines for verily straightening of the lines is a part of correct performance of salaah. – Bukhari and Muslim
The order to straighten the lines and taking care to do so is mentioned in a number of Hadith. (It should also be mention that this includes not leaving any gaps in the lines as is all too commonly neglected.
Raising the feet from the ground in sujud.
This is against what is commanded as it is confirmed in the two Sahih from Ibn Abbas (radiallahu ‘anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was ordered to prostrate upon seven limbs and not to tuck up the hair or the clothes: the forehead (including the nose), the (palms of the) two hands, the knees and the two feet.
So the one praying is commanded to pray with the two feet touching the ground and the complete form of this is to have the toes pointing toward the Qiblah. Part of each foot should touch the ground and raising either of them in prostration is incorrect.
Putting the right hand upon the left and raising them up to the neck.
This is in contradiction to the Sunnah because the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to put his right hand over his left upon his chest.
The Sunnah is to place the hands on the middle of the chest or upon the heart because the heart is in the chest as Allah ta’aala states: It is the hearts within the breasts that are blind.
Hastiness of some imams in the salaah and lack of tranquility within it.
Thus not allowing time for the followers to be tranquil in their salaah or time to recite Al-Fatihah, especially in the last rak’ah.
The imam is responsible for making the quality of the salaah good because he is being followed. It is therefore his duty to take care of the Sunnah, and tranquility is a pillar that the imam is more obliged to take care of due to his being followed. Likewise, the recitation of Al-Fatihah is a pillar that the followers in the salaah must be given enough time to fulfill.
We have already presented the evidence for the obligation of maintaining tranquility and reciting Al-Fatihah.
Not caring to learn the rules of salaah.
This is other than what any Muslim should do. No doubt salaah is the greatest of the Islamic pillars requiring bodily action. Allah commands its performance – “Aqimis-Salaah” (Perform the salaah) – in more than seventy ayaat. It is not possible to perform it without having knowledge of its fundamentals or knowing how the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) did the salaah.
There is no room for ignorance of the rules of salaah, knowing its prerequisites or its essential parts, obligations, the rules for following or making up for errors and the like. It is fardh (obligatory) to know these matters and the absence of knowledge of these matters is a cause of a Muslim being unaware of what nullifies or spoils his salaah, and Allah is the Guide and Provider of Success.
Cracking the knuckles in salaah.
This is from the detested actions in the salaah and is thus forbidden.
Putting forward someone to lead the salaah as imam when it is not his place to do so and there are others more deserving present.
This contradicts the intended purpose of having an imam, which is to be an example to follow.
It is necessary that the imam have an understanding of the deen and is able to correctly recite the Quran according to the statement of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam): The imam of a people should be the one who best recites the Quran…)
The scholars have ruled that one should not be put forward as imam whose recitation is not good, or who openly displays sinfulness, or who has an undignified appearance, or who is an innovator, or who is corrupt or like them. If however, such people are put forward, the salaah of the followers is correct.
Improper recitation of the Quran.
This is an open deficiency and the right of the Quran is that it be read correctly without aberration and that the Muslim strives to improve and excel in its recitation.
Allah ta’alaa states: Recite the Quran with tarteel (correct measured tone) and when We teach you the Quran, follow its recitation.
Meaning, recitation should be proper according to the Arabic language, with clarity and free from distortion.
On this same line is the superiority of the one who purifies his intention as is narrated by ‘Kaisha (radiallahu ‘anhaa) who said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “The one who is proficient with the Quran will be with the scribes (angels) honorable and obedient. While the one who recites the Quran haltingly and finds difficulty (while striving to recite it properly) gets a double reward.”
Some men praying behind women in the Masjid.
Doing so is a detestable action in the salaah. It is from the Sunnah that the rows of the women are behind those of the men. The salaah of a man behind a woman may be a cause of him losing all tranquility and a disturbance in the salaat through his looking (at the woman) or otherwise.
A man should therefore never line up for salaah behind a woman. This is not detestable if due to necessity, such as not missing the ‘Eid salaah, or Salaatul-Jumu’ah, or the congregational salaah and other similar situations (i.e. that make it impossible to join the front rows with the men).
Women coming to the masjid beautified or made-up and perfumed.
This is one of the open and witnessed evils that become apparent during Ramadan and outside it. The woman is coming out to worship her Master, not to show off the beauty of her clothing!
Perhaps men may see her, and she would then be sinful and she would suffer a loss of reward for her deed.
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) stated: “Let not any woman who is scented attend the ‘Isha with us.” (Muslim)
Imam Ahmed transmits along with Abu Dawood with an authentic chain from Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Do not forbid the bondwomen of Allah from the houses of Allah, and let them go out tafilaat.” The meaning of the word “tafilaat” is: Not beautified with adornments or perfumed to show off.
If you are not clear with what is presented in this article, please comment below for more clarification.
And Allah knows best!
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